• Issue #2

Efficiency Gains: Move to a Design System

A bunch of gears intermingled with each other.

Good morning!

This week, the benefits of moving to a Design System, the state of trust in Higher Ed, and thinking long-term about Shorts.

Thanks for being here.

Efficiency Gains: Move to a Design System

Do you work someplace that still uses Photoshop files for web design? At Bravery, we’ll get RFPs that require we turn over web design assets as PSD or PDF files. Here’s a trade secret, though. No professional web designer worth their salt has even thought about Photoshop for years.

I have been using Figma since at least 2018, and at Bravery, we’re Figma stans simply because it lets us efficiently manage design systems for our clients. And design systems are how you should be controlling your digital assets.

A design system is the best way to ensure continuity across all of your digital assets. It’s also the easiest way to replicate clean code that works in your modular designs. I spent a good decade working with flat files between my two university posts and the start of our agency. It takes twice as long to convert those designs into CSS and HTML.

Imagine deciding you want to change the shape of a button or see how rounded corners would look across your website’s images. In Figma, you can create a component and change those things system-wide. Rebranding with new fonts but keeping the same web design for a bit? Just update your fonts and see what works and what doesn’t in your prototypes.

Easy peasy.

Joel Goodman

The State of Trust in Higher Education: Is it really time to panic?

Higher education finds itself in the crosshairs of one side or another (sometimes both) during every major culture war conflict. Theoretically speaking, culture war conflicts represent moral battlegrounds, and higher education represents the souls of our young adults, just breaking free from the oversight of parents and family. When our national identity is under scrutiny, so are our institutions of higher learning.

As our country divides itself along lines of ideologies and wealth, many of us are looking for those inflection points or shifts in the trends to indicate some sort of cooling-off period. Some groups are furiously collecting data and others are reporting on each piece of evidence they see in micro-detail.

So, when Inside Higher Ed reported on a study this past week showing that Generation Z’s trust in higher education has dropped precipitously, they sounded the alarm bell. They called it a “Red Flag.”

Rahul Choudaha, author of the report and managing director of higher education research at Morning Consult, says that “As universities and colleges face declining enrollment, these young adults are a critical group, and the survey results indicate that college and university administrators shouldn’t treat students from all generations the same.”

This does sound alarming, doesn’t it? But, please take a look at this graph they included in the article from the study.

Do you notice anything? I notice that every marker is down for high schoolers ages 16-18. I also noticed that it appears that U.S. universities and colleges actually have the narrowest gap among the four sectors listed.

I raise this issue because I think it is important to recognize that:

This could be an instrument issue. It could be that the survey takers between 16-18 years of age did not interpret the items or the stems (i.e., questions or the range of choices in the answers) in the same way as their older counterparts. This looks like a potential error in survey design and not a reliable result.

But, say this is a reliable set of results. Is higher education the problem here? Or is there something else going on? Why are our young people losing faith in several categories of institutions simultaneously? I am not saying it is okay for higher education to wash their hands of this matter. (In fact, it may actually be a K-12 problem, and who trains and licenses K-12 teachers? But I digress…)

What I am trying to say is that by reporting this as a problem unique to the higher education sector, we might be causing admission directors and marketing offices, not to mention higher education associations, to work on new strategies for increasing trust in our institutions when the effort should be coordinated or coming from another place entirely.

It is worth tracking these articles and taking them seriously. There are reasons why many of us would suffer from diminishing trust in an environment of misinformation, disinformation, and a sea of bad actors eager to exploit our cognition’s inability to keep pace with the digital overwhelm. But, there are so many forecasting a great fall in higher education at a time when we need it more than ever. And, it’s worth noting that they might be motivated to see things a certain way.

Kristin Van Dorn

The Future of YouTube Shorts is Bright

At VidCon, I spoke about YouTube building a bridge to better connect Shorts to long-form discovery.https://t.co/0bfEJBi0jp
Today, the first lane on that bridge opened. Recommendations now consider recent long-form videos from channels the viewer watches in Shorts. More to come!

— Todd B. (@hitsman) August 19, 2022

YouTube’s top Product Lead for Homepage and Recommendations announced that there is now a direct connection between YouTube Shorts and more traditional, Long-Form content. This means that YouTube will now suggest recent long-form uploads to viewers if they have previously watched that same channel’s Shorts.

This clearly indicates that Shorts are here to stay, and it’s nice to see that YouTube is finally rewarding creators who spend time on them.

How might this work for an Institution’s channel?

Imagine a potential student casually watching Shorts on their phone. Perhaps they come across one from your school called “Meal Plan 101,” where a student ambassador highlights the various options to consider and where to eat on campus. The viewer hits “like.” Then they watch another called “Major in a Minute,” where a current student summarizes what it’s like to specialize in X major. Then they switch back over to regular YouTube. Now they’ll be more likely to be recommended your recent uploads. Make sense?

What does this mean for Higher Ed Marketers?

Think of Shorts as another discovery and research tool for prospective students. Use the constraints of a short-form video to think outside of the box. Here are a few ideas for you to get started.

  1. Create “companion content,” where a Short reveals 60-seconds worth of information about a particular part of campus, and then upload a related long-form video that expands on it.
  2. Script your Shorts to create perfect loops. Like similar platforms, Shorts content will play continuously within the app, so write the dialogue so that the closing statement flows directly back into the opening.
  3. Source ideas from YouTube’s Automated Suggestions. Enter the name of your school in the YouTube search bar, and see what queries pop up. Decide which of them deserves a video response, and then sort by intended length.

Don’t over-think it!

Short-form video is just another method for delighting your target audience. Now that we know it can increase the visibility of our existing library of content, we should act accordingly.

Carl Gratiot